A 29-year-old train-hopper is lucky to be alive after he hitched a ride and nearly froze to death Friday morning, Mounties said yesterday.
The Edmonton man hopped on a slow-moving train in Wetaskiwin around 3 a.m., with the intentions of hopping off in a few blocks. The train started moving faster, making it impossible for the drunken man to jump off. When he realized he was slipping into hypothermia, he called police on his cellphone.
“He was extremely lucky to have that phone with him,” Southern Alberta RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb said, adding Mounties, CP and CN Rail, EMS and emergency line operators began a co-ordinated effort to locate the man. “He came very, very close to such serious condition that he could have died.”
Officials eventually narrowed their search down to two trains, one near Blackfalds, the other near Ponoka. Police listened for the sounds of train whistles through the man’s cellphone to identify which one he was on.
Mounties waded through snowdrifts, searching 40 cars for the victim, who had become so incapacitated, he couldn’t call out to rescuers.
When he was eventually found and treated, paramedics determined his core temperature was 32 C, a stage of advanced hypothermia at which internal organs shut down.
CP Rail spokesman Mike LoVeccio confirmed yesterday the 29-year-old man is facing trespassing charges.